REVIEW: Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, S1 Ep2 – Dead People Lie Down

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels Ep2

The second episode of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels deals with the aftermath of the shooting while introducing a new character and continuing the investigation into the grisly murders from the season premiere.

Raúl survived the shooting but is in critical condition, with his whole family waiting anxiously by his bedside. Lewis doesn’t reveal to the police chief that it was Raúl who shot him, showing some loyalty to his partner. Meanwhile, Tiago is torn with grief and guilt about his brother’s condition. He also grows angry when he sees that the corpses of the Mexicans who perished during the massacre are callously tossed in a spare room in the hospital. As racial tensions escalate, Tiago’s younger brother Mateo is almost accosted by disgruntled white policemen but he is rescued by a Pachuco named Fly Rico.

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels Ep2Lewis and Tiago continue their investigation into the gruesome murders, leading them to a mysterious cult  called the Joyful Voices Ministry with people in yellow dresses watching gospel concerts performed by Sister Molly. Lewis checks the church’s books while Tiago catches a performance from Sister Molly herself. They decide to divide and conquer, and I find it amusing that Lewis drops the expression “slowly slowly catchy monkey” just like the title of a recently-aired episode. While Lewis and several colleagues follow a lead, Tiago finds an opportunity to talk to Sister Molly.

Clearly, these two are being set up as the big romance of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels. Tiago is mesmerized by Sister Molly’s angelic singing and when they finally talk, there’s a spark between them. She smiles at him shyly and he conducts an interrogation while helping her with the dishes. Molly has both charisma and innocence, and though she seems a benevolent force for now, there might be much more to her than what she lets on and Tiago ought to be careful.

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels Molly and TiagoLater on, they have a deeper conversation about faith and death, a conversation clearly not related to the investigation. The growing connection is interrupted by Molly’s mother who does not approve of the detective’s speaking to her daughter. But they will surely see more of each other as the series progresses and this seems to be one of the few hopeful aspects of the story at the moment.

Magda continues to sow seeds of chaos with Charlton Townsend and Peter Craft. She encourages the former to take advantage of the death of a policeman to incite hatred against the Mexicans and to push forward the building of the road. Her influence on Craft is subtler but also more insidious.

On a “chance” encounter at the beach, Craft and Elsa Branson leave their children to play with each other as they both talk about the war and fantasize about escaping their lives. The scenes at the beach and in the city are all so brightly-lit which makes Penny Dreadful: City of Angels distinct from its predecessor, but also makes the contrast between the bright setting and the sinister forces lurking beneath the service. Later on, as Craft makes love to his wife, it’s Elsa Branson he imagines in his bed, leading to an awkward moment afterwards. There has to be more to Magda’s scheming here than just wrecking one man’s marriage but given Craft’s involvement with the German American Bund, it’s likely that this will be pushing the Nazi agenda.

Maria once again prays to Santa Muerte to help her with her son. This is where Penny Dreadful: City of Angels shows its horror elements, with the flickering lights in the dark hospital and with Maria walking alone even while she senses another presence behind her. After her prayer, Raúl’s body disappears from his hospital bed and as Maria searches for him, he suddenly appears before her and the episode ends.

Check out the trailer for next week’s episode, “Wicked Old World”: